Guest editorial: Stories of medical cannabis users show why access is so importantPosted by On


Patient stories were front and center during the campaign to legalize medical cannabis, but it seems that amid the political machinations and modifications that have followed, these stories have receded from public view.

In some sense, that’s understandable — after all, as a result of the Prop 2 campaign, Utahns became extremely well versed in these stories. They were shared widely across social media, repeated by traditional media, and talked about in countless workplace and dinner table conversations. The public “gets it,” and that’s why support for medical cannabis has been so strong.

But as regulators move forward implementing Utah’s new law in anticipation of having product available for purchase next spring, it’s imperative that such stories remain at the forefront of our collective consciousness so that we remember that medical freedom for Utahns is what this has always been about — not political power plays, voter initiatives versus the Legislature, or self-satisfaction regarding regulations.

That’s why Libertas Institute and the Utah Patients Coalition together shared the story of Marie Nielsen last week, in a video released on Facebook. This story matters because it shows why we can’t wait.

We can’t wait because, for example, Marie’s firstborn child Clayton died from seizures several years ago. Who knows, she wondered on camera, what things might have been like for him had medical cannabis been an option at the time? How many people have needlessly suffered because of decades of criminalization and stigmatizing of a helpful medical option?

Marie and her husband have had several more children, and in each case were nervous that the genetic condition their son suffered from would befall another child. Four subsequent children avoided it, but eventually the condition came back in little Gracelyn.

Now 3 years old, this young girl has debilitating seizures that prevent her body from functioning like other children her age. She cries in pain, with lengthy episodes that incapacitate her.

As is the case for many with seizures, CBD wasn’t enough; a THC-rich medical cannabis treatment was needed — but it was illegal. Gracelyn’s doctors have supported the use of medical cannabis, but prior to Prop 2’s passage, Marie was justifiably terrified about the potential consequences of breaking the law. It’s a difficult decision as to whether to use it anyway, and risk having the government try to take your child away, or instead let…

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